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SOUTH BEND, Ind.–Taking down or covering up murals depicting Christopher Columbus, is the wrong thing to do, said Andre DiMino, an executive board member of the Italian-American One Voice Coalition. He called Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins’ and the schools’ decision bigotry against Italian-Americans.

“Those murals are there celebrating the opening up of this part of the world and they’re trying to rewrite history. I think it’s unfortunate that the president of Notre Dame succumbed to this request,” said DiMino.

The 12 murals were painted by Luis Groegori in the 1880s. They are displayed on the second floor of the main building at Notre Dame. 

“These murals were put up…to celebrate immigration generally speaking, and for the president to make the statement that Columbus’ arrival in this part of the world was a catastrophe is really inappropriate,” said DiMino. 

DiMino said he respects indigenous people, but pointed out that Columbus did not land in the United States, and the people who were affected by his landing were not American-Indians of North America. He also said native people were practicing slavery and brutality before the arrival of Europeans.

“That was kind of the norm back then. But, to pin it on Columbus and ignore all the others is inappropriate.”

A school spokesman said there has been pressure for a number of years to take action. That action will only be to cover up the paintings, and display them occasionally. 

“We very much respect the contributions of our Native American friends but I find it amazing that we are now judging a 15th Century man by 21st Century standards,” said DiMino. “I implore the president of Notre Dame to reconsider his decision and not give into the hysteria of the moment.”

DiMino said he would support celebrating indigenous people and would support murals being painted to celebrate their history and achievements.

“But, don’t tear down one to help the other.”

The school spokesman said no “tearing down” will occur. High resolution photos have been taken and will be part of an exhibit that includes a section on the murals.

“It shouldn’t just be political correctness for one group. It should be even for all. Unfortunately for Italian-Americans, that’s the last ethnicity that it’s okay to bash,” he said.


PHOTO: University of Notre Dame